Reevaluating my Passion

It's been one of those weeks that I have taken step back and reevaluated my running plan. Everything will continue as it has already been scheduled, but things are going to change. I had no idea that this JFK training was going to do this to me, but I am glad that it did.

So here is the breakdown of my random ideas that are coming in 2016.

I have decided that I am doing only the 2 races I have already signed up for. I will do the Rock n Roll Marathon in DC and the American Odyssey Relay Race. Once May rolls around, I will be on a training vacation. I need a break. I need a several month break from any training. I have been nonstop since the holidays and it is really taking it's toll.

When it comes to the break, I may or may not run. I just don't want any pressure or burn out. I want running to be about running, not about any races. Don't get me wrong though, I love running. I just feel like I have come to a point where I just want to run for the sake of running. No goals. No finish line.

Another plan for next year is more trail running. In fact, I want to hit the trail for the majority of my runs. I feel like I have run every road in Washington County, MD and I am over it. I just still continue running road for the time being because I still have road races coming up. I want to keep my body used to the pavement.

Anyway, what really makes me want to covert to trail came during my long run today. It was my first run on the AT that was over an hour. In fact, it was 3 hours long. Though I didn't get as far as I normally would have if I were on the road or canal, I had more satisfaction out of that run than any other during this training. The sights, the company, the challenges...

The AT is where to be! I even found myself able to talk to total strangers who were also JFK training. It was a great experience. In fact, I have every intention on taking a day off of work next year just to take a lone running excursion through the AT.

I think it's very possible that I could change my mind 100 times before May comes around, but at this moment, I feel great thinking that there is an end to training. At least for a few months. Until then, I have only an ultra, a half marathon, a marathon, and a couple of 5ks sprinkled in there.

Have you ever decided to take time off of racing? What did you find was beneficial from it?

Have you ever fully taken a vacation from running period? What did you do in the meantime to maintain fitness?

    When 3 Meals a Day Isn't Enough

    I feel like I grew up in one of the last generations where eating 3 meals a day was the rule of thumb. In fact, we were discouraged from eating outside of those designated meal times because that is where most thought weight gain stemmed from. It was considered overeating. So we had to put down the fork and wait until the next meal, which may have been 5 or 6 hours away!

    It should be obvious that this method encouraged weight gain, but we followed this idea for years! We'd eat one meal, starve ourselves for several hours, then serve large portions of a meal to satisfy our hunger pains. In reality, most of us could have been overeating on the 3 meals a day plan.

    Today, we are taught to have a meal every 3 hours, giving us 5-6 opportunities to eat a day. If you don't already do this, it may be a great time to start. Especially if you are looking to lose a few pounds.

    For those of you who don't understand the 5-6 meal a day plan for weight loss, here's what you need to know! Though it may seem as though adding meals will increase fat in the body, eating consistently through out the day gives you the energy needed to perform every day physical activities. Eating less frequently can actually trick your body into thinking it is going through a famine. When the body is fed larger amount of foods in less frequent intervals, it will end up storing the food as fat in preparation for a period of starvation. It is almost like hibernation!

    This will also reduce your energy levels. That means that you will be more likely to skip workouts from feeling sluggish. If you do manage to exercise, your energy output will be much lower. Your performance will suffer and you will want to give up or skip future workouts. Who would want to workout if they feel like crap anyway?

    So, how do you convert to eating 5 to 6 meals a day? Take your daily caloric requirements and divide them by 5 or 6 (depending on how many meals you want). Make the meals which occur prior to physical activity have more calories than those that will be followed by sitting or sleeping. This simple change will rev up your metabolism and start using your food as energy rather than storing it as fat.

    I speak from my experience. When I decided to move to a 6 meals a day plan, I was a bit skeptical. I was worried that I would gain so much weight and that I would have a hard time trying to go back to 3 meals. However, I have never looked back. Since moving to 6 meals a few years back, I feel like I have had the most control on my weight. It has been consistent, within about 5-7 pounds depending on my training.

    Besides, who wouldn't want to eat more often!?

    How many meals do you eat a day?

    From your own experience, do you think that eating smaller meals through out the day have been more or less beneficial to your weight?

    Friday Morning Trail Run

    There are two things I rarely do: Run in the morning on a weekday & run on a Friday. Today, Peter and I did both. 

    Because we were off work, we decided to take advantage of the extra free time and get out to the AT. It was a nice change of pace. My legs were still asleep when we got there, but the run felt great! The temps were cooler and the humidity was low. Makes me crave fall weather!

    Also, it was gorgeous out!

    Me? I wasn't so gorgeous.

    Running this morning made me consider switching out my Sunday road runs for a morning trail run. Not only can I stay away from heat, but I can invest more time to practicing trail. I still have a lot of training to do on technical courses.

    Peter and I both had some serious trips. He nearly snapped his ankle and I almost face planted in the dirt. Those ankle-busting rocks are unforgiving! You can't lose your focus for a second!

    Luckily, we both made it out of the AT alive, but nearly falling and hurting yourself is still really scary!

    Tomorrow, I plan on waking up super early and hitting the canal for my 18 miler. Thankfully, a local running group will be out there. It will really help pass the time rather than suffering through a hot run alone. It will be my first group run in about a year!

     About time I become social again. ;-)

    In other news, I don't think I have yet shared with you guys that I obtained my Personal Trainer Certificate!!!

    I got my card and certificate in the mail today! Having something physical makes it very real. Now, a new world has been unlocked and I can't wait to travel every corner of it! New adventures ahead!!! :)

    Marathon Training VS Ultra Training

    With 5 weeks down and 19 to go, I am quickly realizing that ultra training is independent from the training you take on for a marathon. I took on this quest knowing that the 24 weeks ahead would be demanding, but no matter what books or articles I read prior, they did not prepare me for this.

    The Worst is Yet to Come

    So far, my mind and body have been challenged in a manner that I never thought possible. It does not help that I am nearly a month into summer and the hottest days are yet to come. My long run for the weekend will be 18 miles and 90 degree weather is in the forcast. I am already dreading what is most likely going to be a uncomfortably hot and sticky run. I feel that no matter my preparation, it will not do much to keep me cool. All I can hope for is that my brain is capable of working through the sweat, pain, and exhaustion.

    Sure, I could run on the treadmill, but I live in a very old house. The central air is not ideal in our gym room and it will more than likely feel close to what it would outdoors. In the very least, I feel like I am actually going somewhere by running outside in extreme heat.

    Still, heat burdens all runners; whether you are training for a 5k or a 100 mile endurance race. For me, to have the heat on top of training that I have never touched before has only added to my present challenge.

    Walking Happens

    I have stressed it before and will again, running an ultra is not just about running. For those of us who are not considered elite (the majority of runners), we will never run an entire ultra. So it is important to me to incorporate walking into my long runs.

    Although I have allowed this, I am constantly defending the reason why I walk. And only to myself! No one else cares. Just me! I feel weak when I choose to walk a hill. I feel like walking is going to slow me down in other endevours. Will my overall pace suffer? Will 5k, half marathon, and marathon times be slower because I am walking in my ultra training? Will I not be able to stand hills when I do resume normal runs after the JFK is over? I feel like I am losing fitness rather than gaining it by doing something I am not used to and it really bothers me.

    I may come back from a long run or a trail run feeling completely beat. My muscles will be past the point of exhaustion I have ever experienced before, but somehow I will conclude that because I walked, I failed myself. I don't know how to get over that guilt!

    Finding an Inspiration

    Last week, I bought Eat and Run, a book written by Scott Jurek, who is considered one of the top ultra runners. I thought exposing myself to his take on ultras would help me overcome some obstacles. I read a great portion so far and I must admit, I feel slightly better. He doesn't make his adventures sound like they are all sunshine and rainbows. Even the elite have moments of defeat. Jurek details how he lay dry-heaving in 100+ degree weather while competing in the Badwater 135. He contemplated reasons and excuses as to why he found himself at this point, wanting to throw in the towel. Though I am not running Badwater and I am not even a fraction of the runner that Scott is, I am understanding that this is not supposed to be easy and there is no way one can expect what is going to happen next.

    We Can Rebuild Her. We Have the Technology.

    This adventure is going to be a challenge whether it is 90 degrees on a long run day or 19 degrees on race day. I will smile, laugh, bleed, and cry during this entire process, but in the end, I will be victorious. I will be thankful for the hardships and become a brand new runner. I look forward to it. I want this training to transform me. I want it to rip me to pieces and rebuild me. Still, it will suck, but I am positive that the good will outweigh the bad. I just need to learn patience...

    Water Intake is Not Created Equal!!!

    If you're like me, you take water for granted. You drink when you are thirsty (whether water or not) and move on. I mean, you haven't died of dehydration yet, so you must be fine.

    You are pressured with information on how you need to drink water. Do you drink 8 cups a day? Do you only drink when you are thirsty? Do you drink water per body weight? There is so much information out there and it can be extremely frustrating for those trying to do the right thing.

    So what is the right rule to follow?

    To start, we all know that water is one of our life sources. But why is it so important? Here are just a few reasons why adequate water intake is crucial:

    • Prevents blood clotting;
    • Keeps body temperature regulated;
    • Joints remain well-lubricated;
    • Digestion eases; 
    • Assists in storing glucose as glycogen for energy rather than turning to fat;
    • Prevents thickening of blood to help ease transportation of oxygen to the brain and muscles.

    Next, let's focus on you! Everyone is different, from size to activity level. They both play a significant role in how much water one should drink! For example, a 200 pound active individual will need a different amount of water than someone who is 120 pounds and sedentary.

    Here is an easy 2 step process on how to determine how much water YOU need.

    Step 1: Determine your fitness level
    0.5 — No sports or training (Sedentary)
    0.6 — Light fitness training
    0.7 — Moderate training 3 times a week
    0.8 — Moderate daily weight or aerobic
    0.9 — Daily heavy weight training daily
    1.0 — Heavy weight training daily plus sports training

    Step 2: Multiply your weight (pounds) by your activity or fitness level from Step 1.

    Example: 125 X 0.8 = 100 ounces

    It is recommended to take your number and divide it between 8-12 servings per day. This would prevent from taking in too much water at once, which can lead to water intoxication.

    Example: 100 oz/10 servings = 10 oz

    So, should you have 8 cups of water a day? No. Should you drink when you are thirsty? No. You should drink water per your body weight and your activity level.

    Prior to doing this, I was drinking 64 ounces of water a day...maybe! This week, I began following this recommendation and have already noticed a significant improvement in my body processes. I have more regular bowel movements (TMI: I used to go DAYS without going #2) and less bloating. It is still too early to see additional improvements, but I will definitely continue this way of taking in water as bathroom visits and bloating have already improved. Good enough for me!

    Try this for a week yourself and let me know what improvements you notice! I would love to hear your results!

    What rules do you follow on water intake?

    Do you have any current digestive issues?

    Do you have any issues with bloating?

    What results have you noticed from following the above?

    Weekend Recap: Heat, Humidity, and Headstands.

    So I am pretty sure we are keeping this creature...

    When you buy a litter box to replace the temporary shoebox, I think it's a sign of commitment. Poor thing still has the sniffles, but she is getting better every day.

    Speaking of commitment, I have started yoga again. I fell off the bandwagon for a while, but realized that my life was much better with it. Besides, yoga clothes are soo comfy!!! Doing yoga gives me an excuse to buy more of them!

    5:30 am yoga session!

    I have been practicing yoga headstands and I never realized how much your core is used! I didn't quite get into a full headstand, but phew! My abs are killing me today!!! Recommended workout for sure!

    So has anyone else had it with the hot weather? If you're up in the northeast, like me you are probably over the thunderstorms too! It has really slowed down my JFK training; especially since my mileage is beginning to increase on the weekends.

    This past weekend was super hot and humid. I had to strip down to my sports undies, fill up the Camelbak and push through one of the most difficult long runs I have ever been on.

    I thought I looked cute to start, but I can assure you I didn't end looking like this.

    I went out knowing I would walk every single hill. Not just because of the heat, but because I need to get used to the walking/running intervals I'll be doing during the JFK. Believe it or not, it is a challenge to do that!

    Anyway, I made it through 4-5 miles before I had the urge to throw up and I considered giving up. It was so hot and breathing was extremely difficult. I just had to keep reminding myself to keep it slow, listen to my body. I ran when I could and walked when I felt it necessary (like hills).

    Around mile 10, I felt it necessary to get off the road and hit the C&O Canal. Although the humidity would have still been pretty heavy, I knew that the shade would offer plenty of relief! I was able to run more frequently. I only walked when I needed to avoid mud puddles or when I wanted to eat.

    I did have to hit the road one last time after 4 miles on the canal. The brief time without the sun beating down on me helped add fuel to the tank again. Then, after running for about 3 hours, I FINALLY got to 16 miles. Definitely not my best time, but considering I was near-vomiting and walking all hills, I can't complain too much!

    Next weekend they are calling for temps in the 90s and I have an 18 miler. I assume that I will have a pretty difficult time then too, but hey, here's to pushing through for another week! Cheers!

    Do you do yoga? Have you conquered the headstand/handstand?

    Tell me about your weekend long run?

    Are you dealing with some pretty hot temps? How have you been dealing?

    Silent Sunday

    I Ran Into a Kitty...Literally

    Yesterday's run was a first.

    I went out for a long run in the afternoon (the hottest point of the day) and decided to take new route. As I reached the 5th mile, I saw what I first thought was a squirrel. I quickly found out it was a kitten with its back hunched and fur fluffed out in defense. The poor baby was no more than several weeks old.

    I bent down to pet her and realized that this kitten looked as though she were ill. Her eyes and nose were running and could barely make an audible meow. Instantly, my heart melted. I decided to cut the run short and call Peter to pick us up.

    When we arrived home with our house guest, we gave her a bath to help get the dirt off her fur and most importantly, get the gunk out of her eyes and nose.

    We then fed her what cat food we had and some sliced turkey. She was in cat ecstasy and quickly fell into a food coma for several hours.

    It has now been just over 24 hours since this precious little baby has joined our home and I cannot decide whether to keep her or give her to another family. I mean, there has been some intense bonding. She follows us anywhere we go in the house and has to be next to us when it is time to sleep.

     I cannot tell who's more attached though. I think it may be me...

    What animals have you encountered on your run? 

    Have you ever rescued an animal?

    Should I keep the kitty or give her to another family?
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